Michael Sherraden, PhD, George Warren Brown Distinguished University Professor and director of the Center for Social Development (CSD) at the Brown School, has been named the inaugural S. R. Nathan Professor at the National University of Singapore (NUS). The Nathan Professorship has been established to honor the recently retired President of Singapore, former NUS Chancellor and alumnus of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
National University of Singapore announced this new appointment at an event on Feb. 17, where Sherraden gave a public lecture entitled “Innovations in Asset Building.” Sherraden will work at NUS through the month of February, then return to his work at the Brown School. He may retain the Nathan Professorship on a part-time basis of one or two months per year over the next several years.
“The S.R. Nathan Professorship is a great honor for me and for Washington University in St. Louis,” Sherraden says. “I have enjoyed friendships and partnerships with colleagues in Singapore since a Fulbright Research Fellowship more than 20 years ago. Also, I am very pleased to serve as WUSTL’s ambassador to NUS in the McDonnell Scholars Academy. We are working to make the relationships between our two excellent universities even stronger.”
Sherraden has spent part of his academic career in groundbreaking applied research, testing strategies to include the poor in building assets. The idea is that holding even modest assets may promote positive social and economic outcomes. His 1991 book, Assets and the Poor: A New American Welfare Policy, proposed establishing individual development accounts for the whole population, with progressive funding for the poor via government and private sector matching of individual contributions.
In 1994, he established CSD, in part to study asset building strategies. CSD has also made important contributions to research and policy development in civic service, productive aging, thriving communities and other areas. NUS established the Centre for Social Development in Asia (CSDA) in 2006, as a sister to CSD.
Over the past two decades, Sherraden has consulted in research and policy in many countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Mexico, China, Korea, Indonesia, Nepal, Colombia, Peru, Israel, Ghana, and South Africa. He has served as an adviser and consultant to the White House, Department of the Treasury, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Health and Human Services, and many non-profit and private sector organizations. In 2010, Time Magazine named Sherraden to its “Time 100,” the publication’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Nathan was sworn in as Singapore’s sixth President in 1999. He is the longest-serving President in Singapore’s history, announcing in 2011 that he would retire at the age of 87. Prior to serving as President, Nathan held several prominent civil service posts, including Ambassador to the United States from 1990-96.
“It is a significant honor and responsibility to carry the name of S.R. Nathan in my professorship at NUS,” noted Sherraden. “President Nathan has done so much for his country and for the world. We will sincerely try to build upon his exceptional career and accomplishments. If we can increase knowledge and policies for successful social innovations, we will be going in the right direction.”